Clearing up budget confusion
November 26, 2008 · 11:30 AM
By Mike Bailey
City of Redmond Director of Finance
To develop the 2009-10 budget, the City of Redmond used a different approach than in past years, known as Budgeting by Priorities (BP).
As a result, we have reported the budget figures in the context of the priorities defined by the community earlier in the year.
More about this is available on our Web site (www.redmond.gov).
Each budget initiative reports its full cost, not just the marginal increases as in previous budgets. Because of this, and the fact that this is the city’s first time reporting a budget this way, we have seen some confusion about where and how the dollars will be spent, which we want to correct.
One misquoted figure is the cost of a community survey. A community survey is not new to the city; we have conducted one every two years since 2000. It helps us to understand resident opinions, thereby providing direction for service improvement. The survey highlighted in the budget will cost $50,000 not $250,000.
An additional $200,000 is for an “Innovations Fund” to be managed by the Mayor. This fund will provide loans or grants to innovative proposals that improve customer service or reduce costs through targeted investments. An important part of the BP process is continual improvement. An Innovations Fund provides a means for the city to invest in change and innovation, which is critical to improve results with limited dollars.
The proposed budget also allocates $3 million in savings from 2008 to implement the city’s Information Technology Plan. The plan, being developed this year, will provide a comprehensive assessment of the city’s current technology, identify specific areas of needed improvement, make recommendations and define a prioritized implementation plan.
Technology, including the city’s Web site, helps keep the city connected to our citizens and customers. The $300,000 included in the 2009-10 budget will maintain the existing site, which is eight-years-old, while we develop a new one. The budget will also purchase upgraded software and management systems to improve our Web site with a primary goal of improved service delivery and communications.
Another point of clarification is the $1.6 million Innovation/Efficiency Contingency included in the budget. This is a savings goal, not an expenditure. The Mayor has established this initiative as a challenge to city staff to find savings which will help us to balance future budgets.
Lastly, the budget recommends increasing the city’s portion of the property tax by 1 percent (as consistent with the City Council’s long range financial plan) and increase utility fees to pay rising pass-through costs for water purchases and other cost increases.
According to the county assessor, a 1 percent increase in the property tax will cost the average homeowner in Redmond $7 per year more in 2009 than it did in 2008.
I hope this clarifies some of the confusion. Please feel free to contact me or the Mayor’s Office with any questions you have about the budget.
Mike Bailey is the City of Redmond Director of Finance.